15 November 2021


Generally, sex shouldn’t be painful for either men or women, but it’s possible to feel pain during sex at least once in your life. In fact, studies have shown that at least 75% of women experience some extent of painful sex. This is a condition more commonly known as dyspareunia. 

Beyond the pain that you feel, dyspareunia can impact your fertility and interfere with your chances of getting pregnant. In addition, it may also indicate a pre-existing medical condition that may affect your health.

Causes of Painful Sex

To help you understand more about dyspareunia, these are the common factors that can cause it.

  • Lack of lubrication is one of the common causes of painful sex. Low oestrogen levels caused by depression, allergies, and high blood pressure medication or hormonal imbalance may lead to vaginal dryness. In such cases, your body doesn’t produce enough vaginal fluid to lubricate your vaginal walls, therefore causing sharp pain during sexual activities. 

Alternatively, if there’s not enough stimulation during sex, you may experience a lack of lubrication. As a solution, prioritise foreplay before intercourse or apply water-based lubricants to help the experience run smoothly. 

  • Pelvic disorders are another cause of dyspareunia. These include endometriosis, uterine fibroids, cystitis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and ovarian cysts. Approximately 50% of women with any of these conditions experience pain during sex or after. Most of the time, the pain is felt deep within the pelvis rather than upon entry.

  • Psychological issues such as stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional problems can impact sexual functions. For instance, stress can cause your muscles to tighten, which can lead to discomfort and entry pain. On the other hand, anxiety and depression can prevent arousal, which can also lead to the same discomfort. 

  • Vaginismus is a condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions within your vaginal walls. These spasms cause tightness, making penetration quite painful. Although the exact number of Singaporean women suffering from this condition is unknown, medical experts estimate 1% of the female population to have vaginismus

  • Menopause changes the body in numerous ways, from causing hormonal imbalance to thinning the vaginal tissues. The consequences brought about by menopause tend to make sex quite painful. Over time, the tissues in the vagina will become irritated. In some cases, they might tear. For this reason, women undergoing menopause are more prone to painful sex than those who are not.

To find out the cause of painful sex, you can go for a Women Health Screening checkup. This is a crucial step to treating your condition.

Ways to Remedy Painful Sex

If you’ve experienced dyspareunia or are experiencing it at present, know that it’s not a permanent condition. Several treatment options are available in Singapore women’s clinic to help you overcome painful sex, which include the following:

  • Medication

If dyspareunia is caused by an underlying medical condition such as infection or other medical conditions, your gynaecologist can recommend you take prescribed medications like the drug ospemifene.

On the other hand, those experiencing pain due to vaginal dryness will be prescribed oestrogen supplements in either topical or oral forms. Increasing your oestrogen levels can increase the production of fluid in your vagina, thereby generating more lubrication during sex. 

  • Counselling

For dyspareunia caused by emotional and psychological problems, one of the best treatment options is counselling. 

Counselling can help you cope with trauma or emotional distress that may be causing the pain during sex. For a more fruitful counselling session, it’s best to bring your partner with you. Couples counselling can initiate communication between both parties and address any intimacy issues with the help of a professional. 

  • Desensitisation therapy

Also known as vaginal self-dilation, Desensitisation therapy is a technique employed by professionals to promote vaginal muscle relaxation and reduce dyspareunia symptoms. For better results, this treatment may be done concurrently with psychotherapy. 

  • Change in lifestyle

Lastly, a change in your lifestyle can make all the difference when treating dyspareunia. For example, when engaging in sexual acts, you can choose more comfortable positions to minimise pain. Other times, you can prioritise foreplay before penetration to properly lubricate the vaginal walls and prevent discomfort. 

In cases where external lubricants are necessary, be sure to use water-based lubricants that are gentler on the body. 

For more comfortable sex, try some of the dyspareunia natural remedies like applying an ice pack to your vulva before sex or taking natural painkillers. 

Visiting the women’s clinic can help you find the treatment that will work best for you.